Botswana was recently ranked among the best tourist destinations around the world which is one of the important factors that travelers look at when they are planning a vacation. She is endowed with world class tourism sites such as the Okavango Delta, Tsodilo Hills, Chobe National Park and the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) and hotels that have the best hospitality.
Cresta Marakanelo Limited Managing Director Mokwena Morulane has taken the responsibility of taking a regional tour presenting Botswana and Cresta hotels in a bid to drive economic stimuli and activity in the tourism sector whilst carrying the hotel chain brand high. “Tourism is a vehicle which stimulates all other economic sectors.
When we host other nationalities, we showcase our natural endowments, the amazing scenery of our landscapes and the beauty of our people. The tour creates face-to-face relationship with the potential customers and promotes the conversion of visitors into customers. By doing so we are also taking the country and Cresta’s brand message to the world,” said Morulane. So far, the Managing Director has gone to Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg, where he has interacted with various entities and individuals where he has been marketing Botswana and the Cresta brand.
“Most of the travelers that visit Botswana from abroad book with the various Cresta Hotels mostly because of the true warmth of African hospitality, which is why I am going around interacting with them and telling about this beautiful true warmth of African hospitality found at Cresta Hotels”.
Cresta Hotels prides itself with 11 hotels and resort areas in the country; including the signature Cresta Mowana Safari Resort & Spa in Kasane; which is perfectly positioned on the banks of the mighty Chobe River. The resort area which receives clients from all over the world has a spectacular river view, with guest rooms tastefully decorated in ethnic style to compliment the natural ambience. The Spa is a haven of relaxation. Game drives, fishing expeditions, and sunset cruises complete the experience.
“Since the year started, I have been traveling around Botswana, Morulane sold me an idea of always booking with Cresta when I am traveling around Botswana, I was undecided first, but I tried it and it worked. I love Botswana and I am still touring the country. What I can confidently share now is the Cresta experience.
Having checked in four of them I have noticed that it encompasses a range of different products, without being diluted or compromised. Whether you are looking for a cosmopolitan or truly authentic African experience, you will find it,” said Graig an international travel blogger. Morulane said he is planning on growing his roadshow regionally and finally take it across the world.
This century is always looking at improving new super high speed technology to make life easier. On the other hand, beckoning as an emerging fierce reversal force to equally match or dominate this life enhancing super new tech, comes swift human adversaries which seem to have come to make living on earth even more difficult.
The recent discovery of a pandemic, Covid-19, which moves at a pace of unimaginable and unpredictable proportions; locking people inside homes and barring human interactions with its dreaded death threat, is currently being felt.
Member of Parliament for Kanye North, Thapelo Letsholo has cautioned Government against excessive borrowing and poorly managed debt levels.
He was speaking in Parliament on Tuesday delivering Parliament’s Finance Committee report after assessing a motion that sought to raise Government Bond program ceiling to P30 billion, a big jump from the initial P15 Billion.
Government Investment Account (GIA) which forms part of the Pula fund has been significantly drawn down to finance Botswana’s budget deficits since 2008/09 Global financial crises.
The 2009 global economic recession triggered the collapse of financial markets in the United States, sending waves of shock across world economies, eroding business sentiment, and causing financiers of trade to excise heightened caution and hold onto their cash.
The ripple effects of this economic catastrophe were mostly felt by low to middle income resource based economies, amplifying their vulnerability to external shocks. The diamond industry which forms the gist of Botswana’s economic make up collapsed to zero trade levels across the entire value chain.
The Upstream, where Botswana gathers much of its diamond revenue was adversely impacted by muted demand in the Midstream. The situation was exacerbated by zero appetite of polished goods by jewelry manufacturers and retail outlets due to lowered tail end consumer demand.
This resulted in sharp decline of Government revenue, ballooned budget deficits and suspension of some developmental projects. To finance the deficit and some prioritized national development projects, government had to dip into cash balances, foreign reserves and borrow both externally and locally.
Much of drawing was from Government Investment Account as opposed to drawing from foreign reserve component of the Pula Fund; the latter was spared as a fiscal buffer for the worst rainy days.
Consequently this resulted in significant decline in funds held in the Government Investment Account (GIA). The account serves as Government’s main savings depository and fund for national policy objectives.
However as the world emerged from the 2009 recession government revenue graph picked up to pre recession levels before going down again around 2016/17 owing to challenges in the diamond industry.
Due to a number of budget surpluses from 2012/13 financial year the Government Investment Account started expanding back to P30 billion levels before a series of budget deficits in the National Development Plan 11 pushed it back to decline a decline wave.
When the National Development Plan 11 commenced three (3) financial years ago, government announced that the first half of the NDP would run at budget deficits.
This as explained by Minister of Finance in 2017 would be occasioned by decline in diamond revenue mainly due to government forfeiting some of its dividend from Debswana to fund mine expansion projects.
Cumulatively since 2017/18 to 2019/20 financial year the budget deficit totaled to over P16 billion, of which was financed by both external and domestic borrowing and drawing down from government cash balances. Drawing down from government cash balances meant significant withdrawals from the Government Investment Account.
The Government Investment Account (GIA) was established in accordance with Section 35 of the Bank of Botswana Act Cap. 55:01. The Account represents Government’s share of the Botswana‘s foreign exchange reserves, its investment and management strategies are aligned to the Bank of Botswana’s foreign exchange reserves management and investment guidelines.
Government Investment Account, comprises of Pula denominated deposits at the Bank of Botswana and held in the Pula Fund, which is the long-term investment tranche of the foreign exchange reserves.
In June 2017 while answering a question from Bogolo Kenewendo, the then Minister of Finance & Economic Development Kenneth Mathambo told parliament that as of June 30, 2017, the total assets in the Pula Fund was P56.818 billion, of which the balance in the GIA was P30.832 billion.
Kenewendo was still a back bench specially elected Member of Parliament before ascending to cabinet post in 2018. Last week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, when presenting a motion to raise government local borrowing ceiling from P15 billion to P30 Billion told parliament that as of December 2019 Government Investment Account amounted to P18.3 billion.
Dr Matsheka further told parliament that prior to financial crisis of 2008/9 the account amounted to P30.5 billion (41 % of GDP) in December of 2008 while as at December 2019 it stood at P18.3 billion (only 9 % of GDP) mirroring a total decline by P11 billion in the entire 11 years.
Back in 2017 Parliament was also told that the Government Investment Account may be drawn-down or added to, in line with actuations in the Government’s expenditure and revenue outturns. “This is intended to provide the Government with appropriate funds to execute its functions and responsibilities effectively and efficiently” said Mathambo, then Minister of Finance.
Acknowledging the need to draw down from GIA no more, current Minister of Finance Dr Matsheka said “It is under this background that it would be advisable to avoid excessive draw down from this account to preserve it as a financial buffer”
He further cautioned “The danger with substantially reduced financial buffers is that when an economic shock occurs or a disaster descends upon us and adversely affects our economy it becomes very difficult for the country to manage such a shock”